Kangaroo Judges Seek to Expand Authority in WA. State

Written by Bandy X. Lee, 2-14-24

Family Court Judges’ Attempt to Influence Legislation Defeated (for Now)

A couple months ago, I gave the following testimony to the Washington State legislature:

My name is Bandy Lee, and I would like to express my strong opposition to H.B. 2237 and S.B. 5205, which will make the crisis situation in our family courts deadlier…. Giving family courts further legal ammunition could prove catastrophic.

In Washington State, the Superior Court Judges Association (“SCJA”) is proposing significant changes to … the most important statute governing parenting plan decisions in cases involving physical, sexual, and emotional abuse. House Bill 2237 adopts this proposal, and the companion bill, Senate Bill 5205, retains the original version proposed by SCJA that eviscerates the existing statute and case law protections for survivors of domestic violence seeking relief in family court. It does so by creating even more room for judges to remove children from their protective, non-abuser parent, and for the first time in decades, by allowing perpetrators of domestic violence to share decision-making with their victims. It makes it lawful for family court judges to remove children from non-abuser parents with mental health diagnoses such as anxiety or posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which are common consequences of being a victim of violence.

Family Violence Appellate Project,[1] a leader in creating protections in case law for domestic violence survivors in family law, recently published a memo and line-by-line interpretation of the inherent dangers of this abuser-friendly proposal. For the protection of endangered children and their loving parents, and to prevent further family court-related deaths, H.B. 2237 and S.B. 5205 should not pass.

As legislatures are catching onto judicial abuses in the Family Courts, judges are now aggressively lobbying to pass laws that would make their power even more untouchable. Thanks to the heroic efforts of activists, “the Predator Bill” did not pass, against the attorney general, the WA State majority leader, and the Superior Court Judges Association. Unfortunately, like anyone who goes against this 50-billion-dollars-a-year industry that is always looking to expand its racketeering operation, the senators and representatives who opposed the legislation are facing a vicious smear campaign. The sheer aggression with which anyone trying to place limits are targeted, discredited, and attacked gives away the magnitude and degree of criminality that lies behind this “abuse industry.”

Criminal Courts vs. Family Courts

Hidden within the judicial system, few would believe that something presented as a “Court” is not a court of law but one of anti-law, and one that does not counter but commits crimes. Most people imagine something like the criminal courts, which reflect, more or less, our constitutional and democratic protections. However, there are extreme differences:

With all the problems that criminal courts have, usually racism, criminal courts have structured procedure you can hold them to. Violence is a serious offense and treated as such. The defendant is given a defense attorney who does his job of defending the accused, but the prosecutor also plays her role of presenting potentially incriminating evidence, and there is a jury of peers to hear the facts of the case and to serve as an additional check and balance.

Family Courts have an informal process that almost diametrically opposes criminal courts. What largely flourishes in Family Courts is not racism but sexism, which runs so unchecked as to become a massacre of women — and by extension their children — as I have written about. Far from having a structured process, just about “anything goes” in Family Court. Violence, rather than being taken seriously, is treated as nonexistent in a seeming fantasy notion of “ideal family.” Attorneys from both sides hardly have a role outside of facilitating predetermined judgments, and if they veer outside this task — such as truly defend their client — they risk being sanctioned or disbarred. This is because no one goes against the judge, who reigns supreme in her private fiefdom, in which no jury or public is allowed, where everything is kept under tight “seal”, while whistleblowers are persecuted and reporters punished for doing normal reporting.

In criminal courts, expert witnesses such as myself may be hired to do an evaluation of more nuanced areas that can be presented as evidence, which is examined and cross-examined. The better qualified I am, the more likely the court is to admit me for this task. Fact witnesses are also allowed. Defendant are given a trial within a reasonable timeframe if they refuse to settle — not years or decades — and judgments are made on evidence that rise to a standard of “beyond a reasonable doubt.”

In Family Courts, sound evidence is seldom allowed and in many cases blocked, while specious “evidence” that bolsters the judge’s preferred narrative is elevated, including “experts” with questionable qualifications. In Family Court, the better qualified and more independent I am, the less likely the court will admit me as an expert witness, and inconvenient fact witnesses are blocked, also. Instead, hearsay and perjury prevail, as long as the judge likes what he hears, and even the lower burden of proof, “preponderance of the evidence,” is almost never met.

In criminal courts, the judge is more or less a person beholden to impartiality in charge of the trial, who ensures that the process is conducted fairly and who prevents spurious “evidence” from entering into the case. Counter-claims such as “parental alienation” seldom succeed, as prosecutors and judges are well-versed in criminal psychology and in the typical attempts by perpetrators to deflect charges or to “frame” others. And if the process still fails, there are the courtroom observers from the public or the media, and decisions can be appealed.

In Family Courts, the judge is beholden to no impartiality and has often decided in advance which side to favor, typically based on biases for the male gender or the larger purse — and female judges do not deviate from this rule, either, as they had to be “more male than the men” to have gotten to their positions. And pseudo-theories such as “parental alienation,” rejected across scientific communities and in criminal courts, flourish in Family Courts. Also, whereas criminal court cases end when a trial has concluded, Family Court cases persist almost indefinitely, needlessly muddying previously clear-cut cases and complicating already delicate issues, so that an outsider would not be able to decipher the truth — and this seems to be the purpose. Finally, because of the near-unlimited “judicial discretion,” appeals are seldom possible, let alone successful.

Family Courts are not only a travesty of justice, they are places where criminals are made innocent and innocent people are criminalized. They order children to their abuse at over twice the rate of childhood cancers, and child murders by parent might fall by 20 percent, if Family Courts did not get involved — and that is without counting the death rates of mothers, which are newly, astonishingly coming to light.

[1] Family Violence Appellate Project (2024). Advocate for Comprehensive Family Court Reform — Oppose Shortsighted Changes. Oakland, CA: Family Violence Appellate Project. https://docs.google.com/document/u/0/d/e/2PACX-1vRZmyUAIlPdHNinMHwGK8XQriKXmxpxI3zNfdtvllGfmCn83S82V2_jM1QqMbDciJ3T0O3Nr-GrUdD4/pub?urp=gmail_link&pli=1

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